FBI asks public to come forward and report COVID-19 related scams
Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation San Juan Field Office, Rafael A. Riviere-Vázquez, is asking citizens to report fraud and scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re facing an unprecedented event in Puerto Rico and in the United States. We know the anxiety and uncertainty this provokes, and we know it, because we are all going through this together,” Riviere-Vázquez said.
Sadly, there are unscrupulous persons who would benefit from human tragedy. This is what we are beginning to see, and it needs to stop. Our White-Collar Crimes Squad investigates a wide range of fraud scams, from health care fraud to the new COVID-19 related scams,” he said.
Some examples of the alleged scams are:
- Laboratories charging excessive fees (co-pay) for COVID-19 tests;
- Laboratories that bundle other non-essential tests together with the COVID-19 test, which increases cost for patients;
- Targeting COVID-19 test promotion to specific persons or groups, such as nursing homes;
- Pre-recorded calls or “Robocalls” offering tests, treatments or cures in exchange for personal information or money;
- Medically unjustified hydroxychloroquine prescriptions – meaning, prescriptions issued without the patient testing positive for COVID-19 or issued “just in case” to family members of patients who have tested positive;
- False internet sites, selling medical products;
- Companies that claim to possess medical equipment related to COVID-19, promoting the purchase of their company’s stock; and,
- The sale of overpriced masks, gloves, hand-sanitizer, and other first necessity items. This includes people who purchase these items in bulk, to hoard them and then sell them at a higher price for a quick profit.
The examples describe criminal conduct within the scope of federal jurisdiction and “all…in one way or another, put people’s money, health and life in danger in a health crisis such as this one,” he said.